news / 2011-08-24

New course set after energy revolution

Power plant technology and CCS in the 6th Energy Research Programme

The COORETEC R&D initiative has a new structure. Working group 4 is cooperating with CO2 storage projects that form part of the GEO-TECHNOLOGIES programme. ©BMWi

 

Over the next few years, the German Federal Government is looking to promote research that contributes to "an environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply". The new 6th Energy Research Programme replaces its predecessor from 2005. The plan intends to increase the German government’s annual funding budget to one billion euros by 2014.

 

Almost 60 per cent of electricity in Germany is currently generated by power plants that burn fossil fuels. The target for 2050 is a figure of just 20 per cent. At the same time, electricity consumption in Germany is to be reduced by one quarter. In contrast, continuously increasing consumption is expected worldwide. Predictions have estimated that between a half and two thirds of the world’s electricity will come from fossil sources in 2050. With this in mind, the German Federal Government plans to promote the availability of highly efficient, low-emission technologies for the world market and to facilitate the expansion of renewable power plants as part of a flexible power plant infrastructure over the coming years. The German Government’s new 6th Energy Research Programme sets out the research focus areas for the next few years.

New focal points

Since 2004, the Federal Government has supported over 300 projects to the tune of around 180 million euros as part of its “Power plant technology and CCS technologies” research area. CCS stands for “Carbon (CO2) Capture and Storage”. Both well-established and new strategic targets will be pursued in the coming years as part of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology’s COORETEC (CO2 reduction technologies) research and development initiative. Dr. Arne Höll oversees energy research for fossil-fired power plants at this ministry: “Modern and future-oriented power plants are complex system that combine various sophisticated technologies such as gas turbines, high-performance materials of construction and systems for the reduction of pollutant emissions. The aim of COORETEC is to advance the development of these power plants. Instead of concentrating only on the development of components, the focus here is instead on the overall process with higher energy efficiency, improved flexibility and reduced pollutant emissions. Strict engineering requirements will arise in the context of the integration of power plants into tomorrow’s energy supply system. This issue affects integration into new grid structures, the interaction with storage technologies and also the maintenance of system stability when electricity from decentralised and fluctuating sources is fed into the grid.”

New structure for COORETEC

The activities of the COORETEC initiative are guided by an advisory board with representatives from business, science and government. The advisory board develops recommendations regarding research strategy and monitors the progress of the research projects. European and international activities are also included here alongside German research projects. The COORETEC initiative is divided into four working groups based on subject area. In addition to the COORETEC working groups that focus on the development and optimisation of power plant processes, there is also the “AG Turbo” joint specialist group, which works on component development for turbomachinery. “AG Turbo” is an alliance of manufacturers, universities and research institutions that will continue the successful project work carried out in recent years.

 

Four strategically important research fields

The measures to be implemented in the future in the “Power plant technology and CCS technologies” research area will have four focal areas in line with the four working groups.

1. Steam power plants: New materials for steam temperatures of 700 °C and pressures of up to 350 bar; long-term testing of new materials to cover periods of 30,000 hours and longer; improved understanding of microstructure and long-term stability; optimised service lives and maintenance strategies; new testing methods for thick-walled components; combustion systems that are flexible with regard to fuels.

2. Gas turbine power plants and Combine-Cycle power plants: Efficient cooling concepts and innovative thermal insulation layers for turbine inlet temperatures of over 1,500 °C; optimised interaction between cooling technology and material development; compressors and turbines with improved aero-thermodynamic performance; extended range of fuels (particularly for hydrogen-rich gases with a view to coupling with storage systems).

3. CO2 capture: Non-technology-specific research on various CCS technologies; “post-combustion” and “oxyfuel” are the most promising on pilot and demonstration scales according to current knowledge; inclusion of “carbonate looping”, “chemical looping” or membrane-based processes and of the environmental and safety issues involved with various capture technologies.

4. CO2 transport and storage in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology: Storage in various geological formations; information systems for CO2 storage systems and cap rock, safety concepts including long-term safety, monitoring processes over a wide geographical area; risk analyses; simulation of spreading of CO2 in the subsurface; investigations on the long-term behaviour of CO2 in the subsurface; impact on pipelines and storage equipment of additional substances present in the CO2 stream that are associated with capture (e.g. corrosion, carbonate formation).

 

The 6th Energy Research Programme of the Federal Government with the chapter “Power plant technology and CCS technologies” is ready for downloading here.